Retail is Dead

April 2, 2014

With no hope of the “good old days” returning, isn’t it time you considered a new selling approach in your store? Retail as we know it is dead. There are no more hopes that the good old days are coming back, at least in my mind. Sorry if that bursts your bubble, but the truth hurts sometimes.

Retail IS dead. To combat this change in our store, we created a process where first we engage our customer by educating them about their purchase, then we deliver media via automated systems so the consumer can acquire information about the purchase at their pace. Plant a seed, cultivate it and harvest it systematically and automatically. We call this process “infotailing.” It has helped to transform our business from a “me too” retail establishment to a thriving, competition-crushing, market-leading, undeniable choice for a consumer. And you can do it, too.

 

Step 1: Create a Unique Information Position (UIP)

Pull back the curtain on your entire buying process. This product-driven information is typically given away via an opt-in box on your website, and should be your best stuff. Imagine a customer saying to themselves, “If they are giving me this before I even visit the store, what else awaits me when I am there?”

Having unique information to offer a customer lowers fear, gives them an education about their forthcoming purchase and ultimately positions you as the leader in the marketplace.

One of the most common themes we hear in our testimonials is that we made the process easy and eliminated their fears in making the purchase. You can see an example of our UIP sleep guide, “What’s Keeping You Up at Night,” on our website, GardnersMattressAndMore.com.

 

Step 2: Create an Interesting Customer Experience

Gardener's Mattress & More Dream Room

Gardener’s Mattress & More Dream Room

This should be something customers can get only from you, the defining “thing” that only you can offer, and is not easily copied. Our Dream Room is a private mattress testing room. Customers can get comfy, read a book, watch TV or even nap. Customers that use this room always end up purchasing from us—we have a 100 percent success rate.

Step 3: Offer an Incredible Guarantee

Try to eliminate all the risk swirling around in your customer’s mind. We tie our “Love Your Mattress” comfort guarantee to use of the Dream Room and Our Sleep Guide. When our Dream Room is used to purchase a mattress, we extend a one-year comfort guarantee. The customer’s time investment with us underwrites our risk. We have a .5-percent return rate doing this, but consider the dollars made as result of having this in place.

 

Step 4: Develop Your Sales Choreography

Even the best actors use scripts. Develop a script for everything. Consider all touch points and make sure the script always answers “WIIFM?”—What’s in it for me, as the consumer? How does the customer benefit?

Gardner's Mattress & More Sales Floor

Gardner’s Mattress & More Sales Floor

In our sleep assessments (really a nice way of saying sales choreography), we engage in a sit-down conversation with a clear goal that we state when we introduce the sleep assessment. Our choreography begins like this: “Rather than us tell you all about what we would like to sell you, we feel it makes sense to have a seat in our customer lounge and discuss your individual sleep needs. What would tomorrow morning feel like if you found the right mattress today and could sleep on it tonight? Would you be open to that?”

Rarely, if ever, are we turned down, and when we get resistance we simply conduct the assessment with the customer as we navigate the showroom.

 

Lounge Area in Gardner's Mattress & More

Lounge Area in Gardner’s Mattress & More

Step 5: Systemize Lead Flow

Capture leads via opt-in boxes on your website, emails and other marketing efforts, plus have an auto-response sequence in place for follow-up marketing. An opt-in box collects customer information in exchange for something of value, typically an information piece like a free report. Think of what information you have that is unique and that you are willing to give away in order to begin a dialogue with your customers.

In the store, offer a summary sheet when a sale is not made—a price quote and summary of your conversation—in exchange for contact information. Getting these details becomes very easy when proper sales choreography is followed.

 

Step 6: Do Not Offer Price Cuts or Deep Discounts

Instead, offer value-added items that can be bonuses as part of the purchase. Look for low-cost, high-value products. If you must discount, have a procedure. There is more perceived value in a system of discounting (like holiday promotions and coupons) than there is for simply saying, “Sure, I’ll take X% off if you pull the trigger now.”

If you think customers are blind to the usual used-car tactics, think again. We actually attract more customers because we don’t promote or sell in this fashion. Our customers choose to buy from us because of us—and because of our testimonials, our commitment to community and their earned trust.

 

iComfort Sales Area in Gardner's Mattress & More

iComfort Sales Area in Gardner’s Mattress & More

Step 7: Get Money Moving Forward

Always have an upsell offer and premium package/service for your best customers and don’t be afraid to show it off. This makes your other mattresses look like a value.

We properly fit pillows first, so customers often leave with pillows and come back later to buy the mattress. This gets the customer doing business with us and makes it much easier to get them back in the store later. Plus, at times we will offer a chance for customers to get their pillows discounted or free if they come back to buy the bed within a certain period of time.

 

Jeff Giagnocavo (left) and Ben McClure

 

Jeff Giagnocavo and Ben McClure are co-owners of Gardner’s Mattress & More and founders of Mega Mattress Margins.

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